Tuesday, August 1, 2023

Small Space News Story Roundup 15

Tonight's Antares Launch Marked the End of an Era

On August 1, 2023, the last Northrup Grumman Antares rocket lifted off at 8:31 PM Eastern (0031 UTC on August 2).  This is the last launch of the Antares, carrying their Cygnus cargo vessel to the ISS.  The Cygnus will live on, under contract to NASA, but a new launch vehicle is being developed by Firefly, to be called the Antares 330.  Originally expected to fly toward the end of '24, it now looks to be No Earlier Than (NET) summer of '25.  Until that vehicle flies and is certified, Northrup Grumman has contracted with SpaceX for three launches starting later this year (at this point stated as NET November).  

Continuing their tradition of naming Cygnus vehicles for influential individuals in spaceflight, the NG-19 Cygnus was christened the SS Laurel Clark, for the fallen space shuttle Columbia astronaut. Once on orbit, the SS Laurel Clark will spend about 2.5 days catching up to the ISS.

Video Here - should start at about T-15 seconds.  There's a tribute to Laurel Clark about 15 minutes before that.  The whole video is around 51 minutes.  

Europe's Euclid Space Telescope Downloads First Test Images 

Much as the James Webb Space Telescope started downloading test images before starting its "real science" images, the European Space Agency's Euclid Telescope, launched a month ago on July 1, has reached its orbit at the L2 (Lagrange) point and started taking and downloading its first images this week

On Monday (July 31), the European Space Agency's Euclid telescope sent its first images back to Earth. And while these seminal portraits are certainly mesmerizing, they also confirm that the space observatory's instruments are working in tip-top shape.

Two images taken by Euclid's instruments. The left was taken by VIS and the right by NISP. (Image credit: ESA/Euclid/Euclid Consortium/NASA) 

VIS is the visible light sensor, while NISP is the Near-Infrared Spectrometer and Photometer which (as the name says) is sensitive to light wavelengths invisible to the unaided (human) eye.  More images and much more information at Space.com

It should go without saying that these are test images and not yet usable for the telescope's intended scientific uses, but final words to the team:

"The outstanding first images obtained using Euclid's visible and near-infrared instruments open a new era to observational cosmology and statistical astronomy," Yannick Mellier, astronomer at the Institut d'Astrophysique de Paris and Euclid Consortium lead, said in a statement. "They mark the beginning of the quest for the very nature of dark energy."


  1. Ought to look really good after they have a chance to tweak on it.

  2. Most people don't examine each frame of a movie to verify the shadows match the in-movie date and time. You shouldn't pay that much attention to the projected scenery on the walls of the zoo cage, either.

  3. https://c.ndtvimg.com/2022-07/o2ovfpvo_kitchen-slab-elon-musk-meme-650_625x300_15_July_22.jpg

  4. The VLS image has a disturbingly large number of line artifacts of all sizes and orientations, and what looks like a drop of residue in the upper left.

    1. I was wondering about those streaks. Camera artifacts, or moving objects? How long was the exposure? Which direction was it pointing?

    2. The lines are from cosmic rays and I've seen them before in other images from space borne cameras. Remember, Euclid is out at the L2 point about 950,000 miles from Earth so in deep space. As for exposure length and direction pointed, no data in the source from Space.com. Cosmic rays will appear to be totally randomly oriented with respect to the telescope, like these.

      McChuck, I think you're referring to what looks like a fuzzy donut around a brighter spot? I'm not sure, but my guess would be that since it looks like an out of focus collimation image it's part of the alignment process for the VIS imager. When we align an optical telescope, defocusing the scope enough to see a pattern like that is asymmetrical (as it is) helps to adjust the optical train to make it symmetrical.

    3. Ah, cosmic rays. I should have thought of that, dang it. Running along close to the plane of the detector, making pixels shed electrons.